Rediscovering the Beast of Burden

A quick look at this endangered animal is enough to convince us that even in this age of highly mechanized farming, the carabao still has a lot to offer in terms of business opportunities.

By: Henry D. Tacio


The Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has listed tamaraw under Appendix I, which means that “ the trade of species of subspecies” of the animal is “strictly prohibited” except for educational, scientific or research and study puposes.

After the tamaraw, what Philippine animal is most likely to make it to the CITES list? The carabao, that’s what. The Filipino’s beast of burden, forced out from the farm by mechanized farming, is now being pushed to extinction.

The carabao population has steadily dropped since 1998. Statistics compiled by the Laguna-based Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) showed that there were 2.95 million of carabaos in the country in 1988. this dwindled to 2.48 million by 1992. The trend is continuing even today. “Unless we do something now, we might wake up one day an agricultural country without a carabao to speak of,” warns a farming expert.

The Philippine carabao is just one of the many breeds of the water buffalo, sometimes known as an “Asian animal” since region is home to some 95% of the world’s stock. The buffalo was first domesticated about 4,500 years ago, inn china or the Indus Valley – perhaps at the same time – and a “buffalo culture” spread gradually throughout Asia.

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Carabao -The Beast of Burden

Carabao:  The Beast of Burden

By Henrylito D. Tacio

Madrid Agribusiness Digest

After the tamaraw, what animal is most likely to make it to the country’s threatened list?

            The carabao, that’s what. The Filipino’s beast of burden, forced out from the farm by mechanized farming, is now being pushed to extinction. Although there are no current records available from the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, the carabao’s total population is steadily declining..

            “Unless we do something now, we might wake up one day an agricultural country without carabao to speak of,” warns a farming expert.

            The Philippine carabao is one of the many breeds of the water buffalo, sometimes known as an “Asian animal” since the region is home to some 95 percent of the world’s stock. The buffalo was first domesticated about 4,500 years ago, in China or the Indus Valley – perhaps at the same time – and “buffalo culture” spread gradually throughout Asia.

            There are two types of water buffaloes: The river type and the swamp type. The river type is exemplified by the Indian and sub-continent breeds. It considered under the dairy category because it possesses high genetic capacity for milk production.

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Cheap alternative to carabao feeds

Cassava foliage:cheap alternative to carabao feeds

By:Rita T. dela Cruz

BAR today april-june 2002

Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) has been an important food source in many developing countries. It’s an ideal food-security crop because of its capacity to adapt to unfavorable conditions. It grows even in poor soil and in areas where other crops fail to be productive, and is resistant to drought and pest infestation.

In the Philippines, cassava tubers are dietary staple and important source of carbohydrate for both man and livestock, and are important cash crop. The cassava tubers also have industrial purposes, particularly as cassava flour, which is now being used as substitute for commercially manufactured flour.

Unknown to many, one of the potentials of cassava farming that hasn’t been fully utilized is the use of cassava foliage as animal feeds.

In a recent study conducted by the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), scientists found that cassava foliage could be used as a potential feed for ruminants. The scientists tried to evaluate the biological and economic potentials of processed cassava leaves as feed for carabaos. Headed by Dr. Caro Salces of PCC, the study was conducted at the Center in Ubay, Bohol.

The study aims to determine effective means to detoxify the cassava foliage for animal feeding purposes, to know the effect of processed cassava foliage on the growth of the carabaos, to identify the effect of sulfur feed supplement on the growth rate of carabaos that were fed with cassava foliage, and to determine the profitability of integrating livestock in a cassava-based farming.

Detoxifying the poison in cassava One limiting factor in using cassava as animal feed is the presence of potential toxic concentrations of cyanide or hydrocyanic acid (HCN). For human consumption, the toxicity of cassava is resolved by cooking. This is the reason why it is not recommended to eat cassava uncooked.

Cassava leaves are important source of micronutrients, protein fiber and ash, which are essential in animal feeds but along with these essential elements is a high cyanide concentration which ranges from 189 parts per million (ppm) to about 2466 ppm depending on the variety.

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Carabo raising – kalabaw

Carabao Fattening

Feedlot fattening of the carabao is one of the fastest ways to increase carabeef production. It is simply feeding the animal with locally available feeds but are of good quality and least cost. More so, feedlot fattening becomes especially useful in areas where farm by-products such as sugar cane tops, pineapple pulp, corn fodder, cover crops and the like are abundantly available.

In the Philippines at present carabao feedlot fattening has a very limited scope. The majority of the carabao raisers are small farmers whose primary purpose for maintaining1 to 3 carabaos is for draft. A secondary purpose is to sell them eventually for meat. The term of its service on the farm however, depends on its efficiency as a worker or when there is an exceptional price offered for it.

Both the cattle anthe carabao are usually fed and fattener on the available crop residues during the season. In certain barrios of Batangas, crop residues and weeds are supplemented with commercial starter mash at a rate of about 1.5 to 2 kilograms a day.

The following are the classes of carabaos fattened for the market:

1. Retired work animals on account of old age and viciousness.
2. Feeder stock about 2-1/2 to 3 years of age, home grown or purchased in the market.
3. Carabaos below 3 years old but not suited for breeding or work purposes.

Advantage of feedlot Fattening

1. Fast turnover of capital. Fattening of carabaos may be attained in a reasonable length of time depending on management and nutrition.
2. The animals are less prone to disease because of limited time spent on the farm.
3. Profitable utilization of farm by-products generally going to waste.
4. Housing of feeder stock does not need a big area. In open lot confinement, the suggested floor space allowance is 4.0 to 4.7 sq. m per mature feeder, 2.8 to 3.7 sq. m. for yearlings and 1.8 to 2.8 sq. m for caracalves
5. Management is relatively simple. For backyard fattening, the phases of management involve only feeding the fattener with any cheap by-products, forage or some concentrates available. When animals is ready for marketing or if a lucrative price is offered for it, then the animal is sold. However, management  under commercial scale is more intricate. Apart from the regular purchase of feeds and following of the feeding program, other practices involved are buying of stocks, medication and marketing of fattened animals.

Contrasting disadvantage of feedlot fattening.
1. The need for large capital investment. This however holds true only for the commercial scheme of fattening where large amount of  money is needed for the periodic purchase of feeds and stocks, Under backyard fattening, when only one of two carabaos are involved, the problem is not usually encountered. In fact, fattening becomes only incidental; that is when work animals are retired from the farm.
2. The need to have skills in buying and selling of sticks. This statement is true when feedlot fattening exists as a true business or in a commercial scale.
3. In the commercial scale, the availability of feeder stock maybe limited.

There is money in carabao feedlot fattening whether it is in a backyard or commercial scale . However, its success depends mainly on three factors:

1. Feeds and feeding. The profits from feedlot fattening greatly depends on the feeds and labor costs to produce a kilogram weight gain. The labor cost may not be very significant in the backyard scale, but for commercial or semi-commercial scale, the length of the fattening period has a profound effect on the cost of production.
2. The feeder stocks should have that inherent capacity to fatten at a much shorter period of time. Retired animals may not compare with the young feeder stocks, but they are feedlot fattened in order to improve the market value.
3. Feedlot facilities. Under backyard conditions, the carabao may just be housed nder a nipa shed, however, it should provide the necessary facilities for its protection and comfort. Floor, feeding and watering spaces should always be given important considerations regardless of the scheme ( commercial or backyard).
A)    In an open shed, the beam of the roofing should at least be 3.05 m high to allow adequate ventilation and cooling.
B)    Fencing in an open lot should at least be 1.2 to 1.5m high and strong enough to hold animals may just be tethered securely to a post or in the field, but must have access to the feeds and water.
C)    Adequate watering and feeding trough. For caracalves  weighing up ro 200 kg the top of the feed bunk should be about 46 cm high. For older animals, the height of the feed bunk should be 61 to 76 cm or less. The depth of the bunk should be 25 cm to minimize feed losses and to make feeds readily available. Feeding space for calves should be about 46 cm   per animal and for older animals, 61 to 76 cm. Provide at least 30 cm of watering space for every 10 heads if the open tank is used. Continue reading “Carabo raising – kalabaw”